I don’t talk about fitness trackers much on the blog anymore (no-one needs another fitbit review!). And believe me, this is not because I don’t use one. I literally keep my wrists covered at all times to prevent people from asking if the bands on both wrists are activity trackers and why I need them both.
The short story is that one is basic and links to my health insurance (earning me perks such as free coffee, movie tickets and half price trainers) whilst the other has a heart rate monitor which allows me to see how effective my training is and push myself to the required zone.
Then along came this study thats suggests that measuring an activity makes it less enjoyable. But the caveat is that the negative effects of measurement are really where you were just doing something for fun. Because then, measurement makes it not fun.
So, the moral of the story is the title of this post.
If you’re new to exercise or working out, find a specific goal to work towards. For example, walk more to lose weight. In cases such as these, having access to data can actually make you more likely to do the activity.
I spent approx 6 years meticulously tracking every single run I did, no matter how short. I loved having all this data but when I wasn’t training for a race, it became meaningless.
I then turned off the milestones on my Nike+ running app so it no longer kept telling me my distance or pace. Then I stopped tracking some runs all together and focused on how I felt rather than how fast I was going.
This research proposes that the more you quantify something that’s rewarding for its own sake, the less likely you are to enjoy it – and the less likely you are, too, to do more of it.
And this is what happened to me after I completed my first ever triathlon in 2015. I measured every swim (and was annoyed every time my watch missed a lap of the pool), the few runs I managed to squeeze in and the couple of times I actually rode my bike as part of my training.
I then didn’t run for over 6 months.
By the time I needed to start running again, as I had races in the diary, I couldn’t muster up the motivation. What did get me moving again was the realism after hopping on the scales (another tracker that demotivates us?!) and seeing the effect that no running, no swimming, no cycling but eating like I was had had on me. Then I wanted to track everything. From workouts, to water intake, to my daily food intake.
Is there a happy medium?! I certainly don’t know. But it’s much like all technology these days. It’s refreshing to take a break from it all every now and again. Run to enjoy the scenery, clear your mind and destress. Walk to stretch your legs, enjoy company or get from A to B. Or workout, just to sweat.
Do you use any activity trackers?! Have you in the past, and quit!?! What are your thoughts?!
Lovisa Karlsson says
Hi Elle! I used to be one of those people who hated the gym. But I love running and that 's I have participated in many cross countries(Marathon) as well. I am very conscious about health. I used to yoga also in the morning as well but then I got hurt not once, but multiple times and suffered hormone imbalances that forced me to stop running.
Laura Fitaholic says
Frankly, I don't really like the idea of two trackers, just because I know it will drive me crazy. At one point I had two digital scales and spend more time than I care to admit in comparing the result and trying to determine which one was more accurate.~ Fellow Fitaholic Laura
Elle Linton says
Hey Laura, my two trackers do two very different jobs. One I use to track my heart rate when exercising and the other just tracks steps and is connected to my health / life insurance to earn me rewards! ….also, the quote that stays with me is "Comparison is the thief of joy" …so I am well practised in not comparing many things in life, including my two trackers! 🙂
Lesli Ellen says
I love the idea of turning off all the tracking once in a while, like a digital detox. I definitely get the frustration when I feel like my Misfit hasn't accurately tracked what I was doing, so maybe going cold-turkey once in a while might be healthy in it's own way 😉
Elle Linton says
it's always good to go back to basics in everything every now and again!! …I'll be running my half this weekend maybe just with HR tracking to see how comfortable I am feeling rather than focusing on pace !
Mollie M says
I never considered a scale to be an activity tracker, but I guess it is the original one! It is always nice to have the option to track or not track a workout. But truth be told- I double track too!
Elle Linton says
we need to start a new hashtag #DoubleTracking lol …whenever one breaks theres always another waiting in the wings!
Natasha Wynn says
I've used a few on and off for the last couple of years, but I've settled on Fitbit Charge HR, partly because it links to my insurance too, but also because I'm really fascinated by how my body works. In the past, I've been annoyed by trackers that think I've been doing nothing when I've been at yoga sweating my backside off, which is why the HR ones work better for me!Natasha | Dance Flow Lift
Stephen Morrison says
Elle, I am another who wears two trackers, although my Garmin 235 might be the closest to ideal that I have found.
Ivanna Marie says
Great post. I recently jumped on the fitbit wagon and so far I am loving it. I like to see how I'm doing since I work and office job. Just running according to how you feel is a great idea. I'll have to leave my gps behind every now and again.
Elle Linton says
Thanks Ivanna 🙂 ..I do love a little fitbit challenge too! lol ..they're especially great when your job causes you to be sedentary for long periods of time! My polar watch vibrates if I stay still for too long as a great reminder to move!